Dire Straits (II): so good, so short

Written on the 24th of January, 2015

Mark Knopfler didn’t waste time after Communiqué, and Making Movies, the band’s third album, was ready only months after their sophomore effort. His brother Dave left the band before finishing the album and, although most of his guitar parts were ready, Mark re-recorded them.

The sound is more mature than ever before, and, except from Expresso Love, which I personally find rather dull, every song is entertaining enough at the least. Making Movies does have a pop-ish touch at times and, although that’s often not too good in my book, it helps Dire Straits lose a bit of their occasional one-dimensionality.

There is one song that stands tall above all the others: Tunnel of Love. This one is actually the most well-rounded song the band ever did. I’ve probably said at least once or twice that I’m not a huge fan of rock bands that stay in the guitar-bass-drums comfort zone, and here the keyboards add a refreshing touch to an already excellent song. The beginning may sound familiar to some of you, and that’s because it’s an extract from The Carousel Waltz, by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. This is the reason the song isn’t credited to Knopfler alone, which only happens in two other Dire Straits songs: Money for Nothing and What’s the Matter Baby?

Making Movies is a relatively short album, with only seven songs and a running time of thirty-seven minutes. There are, then, only five more songs to mention. First of all, there’s of course, Romeo and Juliet, the album’s most successful song. I’m usually not crazy about romantic songs, but I must admit this one is pretty good, and Knopfler’s singing is really powerful here. I think I don’t need to explain the reference the title contains, although many of you probably don’t know the story behind the song (not gonna lie, I was one of those people until a few minutes ago). The inspiration comes from Knopfler’s failed romance with Holly Vincent, lead singer of a short-lived band called Holly and the Italians. Dire Straits’s frontman implies that Holly Vincent used him to boost her career.

The other romantic slash cheesy song is Hand in Hand, which is not bad, but pales in comparison to Romeo and Juliet. The album also features the highly enjoyable Skateaway, the catchy rocker Solid Rock (another of my pre-party songs) and the strangely amusing Les Boys.

All in all, this is probably the band’s best album after the brilliant Brothers in Arms. If only, it’s a bit too short, and I miss one or two more songs. The funny thing is that four more songs were recorded but not released: Making Movies (the fact that the album took the title of a song that wasn’t finally featured on it is pretty strange, although it’s also in a line from Skateaway), Suicide TowersTwisting by the Pool and Sucker for Punishment. The first two appear in bootlegs, and Twisting by the Pool, which is extremely catchy (and extremely eighties-cheesy), was released on the ExtendedancEPlay EP on 10 January 1983.

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